Turner Broadcasting Apologizes to Boston

City Asks for Repayment of $750,000

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The fallout from yesterday's "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" bomb scare in Boston continues, with Turner Broadcasting doing its best to apologize for a marketing stunt gone terribly awry.
Sean Stevens and Peter Berdovsky
Sean Stevens and Peter Berdovsky Credit: AP

Cartoon Network issued an apology during last night's Adult Swim lineup, when "Aqua Teen" airs in its 15-minute form. "We never intended or designed this to be a marketing stunt to create concern," said Shirley Powell, a spokeswoman for the channel's parent company, Turner Broadcasting. "It was simply a promotion for a TV show. If we had perceived this as threatening, it never would have been implemented."

Ms. Powell added that Turner is in discussions with Boston officials regarding reparations to the city, which are believed to amount to $750,000.

Two arrests
Two arrests have been made in the investigation: Boston residents Peter Berdovsky, 27, and Sean Stevens, 28. Lawyers told the two not to discuss their involvement in the case in a press conference today, so they instead frustrated journalists with a three-minute discussion on the history of hair. A YouTube video surfaced today detailing their efforts to place the Lite-Brite-like panels depicting the show's Mooninite characters on the streets of Boston.

The campaign was discontinued by Cartoon Network and its agency, Interference, whose executives have not spoken to the press and were not believed to be in their New York offices today. A spokeswoman for the Boston attorney general's office said the police investigation is ongoing and no one else has been named in the criminal proceedings.

The news was a favored topic of many marketing executives today, including one who wished to remain nameless and said of the stunt, "Who in their right minds would have done this? You get strip-searched at the airports. People are literally freaked out these days."

'It's a generation gap'
Boston Ad Club Membership Director Robert Toomey said, "Hopefully Boston wasn't the only city that appears that have been fooled. What we've heard people say is that it's a generation gap and that 20-year-olds recognized the symbol and others that were concerned just saw wires and duct tape."

Even with the impending March 23 release of the "Aqua Teen" movie from First Look Pictures (which was not involved with the 10-city campaign), Ms. Powell said this is not a case of any publicity being good publicity.

"No one here would find any comfort in that," she said.
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